Syria: Why did the US-Russia brokered ceasefire collapse? What does the duo care for?

The 71th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Middle East Quartet: (L-to-R) Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, John Kerry, US Secretary of State and Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister. (Date: 23/09/2016. Location: New York. © European Union , 2016 / Source: EC -Audiovisual Service / Photo: Andrea Renault). Renault).

The 71th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Middle East Quartet: (L-to-R) Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, John Kerry, US Secretary of State and Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister. (Date: 23/09/2016. Location: New York. © European Union , 2016 / Source: EC -Audiovisual Service / Photo: Andrea Renault).

Only two weeks after it was agreed upon, the ceasefire in Syria has finally broken down. However, the US and Russia are still trying to find common grounds, not for a new truce, but for an arrangement about splitting Syria’s carcass. This is a clear indication that the war will continue until the two powers are finally convinced that they cannot have everything they wanted and settle down to reach a compromise.

Even worse, the two may have come to an understanding that the war will continue for as long as it serves their interests. In the case of the US, the industrial-military complex will continue having a party, while the Moscow rulers can go on boasting in front of their internal audience that Russia is confronting the US on an equal footing in the carnage.

Who wants peace?

Meanwhile, the bloodshed goes on in Syria, after a double blow on the prospects for a peace arrangement. The US bombed the Damascus airport, while Russia hit the first Aleppo UN humanitarian convoy. Then, the two ministers of Foreign Affairs, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov, met in New York, on the side of the UN General Assembly. Kerry was a bit optimistic citing “little progress”, but Lavrov was harsh accusing the US of directly undermining the ceasefire of 9 September.

Undeniably, the ceasefire was undermined by both powers. The US started ignoring the agreement by bombarding the Damascus airport on 11 September exactly the moment when the Syrian army forces, loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, were about to push the ISIS butchers away from the capital. Next day, the American Defense Ministry felt obliged to issue a statement apologizing for the bombing, calling it a ‘mistake’. Nonetheless the damage was done.

Killing UN humanitarian volunteers

Last Monday 19 September, the Russians replied by bombing a UN humanitarian convoy heading for Aleppo, killing a score of volunteers. This atrocity triggered global reactions and the UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon was quoted calling it a ‘war crime’. The Syrian army continued disregarding the ceasefire terms, by announcing a major ground and air offensive to capture Aleppo, the largest city of the country. Last Friday, reports said that the offensive is of unparalleled force.

No question then that the ceasefire is dead. Both the US and Russia shamelessly continue pursuing their goals on the ground. Naturally, the two powers read the situation differently. Kerry and Lavrov in New York appeared with quite diverging assessments. As noted above, Kerry spoke about ‘progress’ while Lavrov was very angrily accusing the US of not honoring the ceasefire.

Differences and convergence

Lavrov’s anger is justified, because it was the US to ignore the truce first. As noted above, just two days after the truce was concluded, US fighter planes bombed the Damascus airport and killed dozens of Syrian army soldiers, who were trying to push back ISIS. In this way, the crazy murderers managed to repel the assault of the Syrian army.

The apology from the US Defense Ministry didn’t change a bit the fact that Assad missed the opportunity to secure an extended perimeter around the capital. As an answer to that, last Thursday, the Syrian army and air force started a major assault to capture the entire city of Aleppo. In any case, this was the last and fatal blow to the ceasefire.

When the truce was first announced, this newspaper predicted it won’t hold. The relevant European Sting article entitled “The impossible end of the war in Syria” stated that the war will continue “…up to the point that US and Russia secure their strategic goals in Syria and convince their proxies to stop fighting between them…”. Alas, it seems that the war hasn’t reached this point yet.

Helping others to get killed

The truth is that, US and Russia, despite supporting opposing groups, have an understanding between them about what they are doing in Syria. There is certainly a mutual idea, that if they can’t come to an agreement about what they can finally gain there, they can at least agree about how the war is to continue. All along the war, despite the deadly consequences of supporting opposing sides, they meticulously avoid confronting each other. As for their proxies, in their view, they may continue killing each other.

Shockingly enough, the conclusion is that the ordeal, the destruction and the carnage in Syria does not matter at all in the US-Russia plans for the country, which is falling to pieces.

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